Has ‘Bazball Cricket’ encroached  into Zimbabwe? Antum Naqvi

Brandon Moyo, [email protected] 

IN 2022, writer Andrew Miller came up with the term ‘Bazball’ in reference to the style of play that the English cricket team had adopted in Test Cricket where they were playing with a lot of aggression – scoring quickly.

The term ‘Bazball’ came after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) appointed former New Zealand skipper, Brendon McCullum as their new Test head coach, taking over from the World Cup-winning Chris Silverwood after losing the Ashes.

McCullum – nicknamed Baz and was an aggressive batter who still holds the record for the fastest century in Test history – brought in a new type of play to Test cricket. England, under his tutelage and the stewardship of Ben Stokes as captain, started playing aggressively in Tests.

At one point, they even surprised everyone, declaring on day one of an Ashes Test against Australia. That positivity is said to have been one of the traits of Bazball – named after McCullum.

In their own words, Bazball is a style of play in Test cricket that is enshrined in risk-taking and quick scoring, unlike in the olden days when batters would take their time to settle in and score. With Bazball, you start striking from the first ball. They said players need to “express themselves’ and play “fearless” cricket at all times.

Brian Bennet

However, that type of aggression in Test cricket has received criticism with some saying it is not the way Test cricket should be played while some have described it as a failure as England has found the going tough against the traditional giants.

Despite the controversy surrounding it, that type of play appears to have encroached into the Zimbabwe Cricket circles with batters scoring runs for fun in the recently ended 2023/24 Logan Cup season.

Batters from the country’s five provincial four-day teams appear to have adopted the style of playing fearless and aggressive cricket. England international, Dominic Bess, who was part of Southern Rocks in the Logan Cup believes their philosophy has been adopted by everyone and even in the country, players were appreciating the way they now play red-ball cricket.

Alongside Eddie Byrom and other local players, Bess believes they implemented well the Bazball philosophy in the Zimbabwean domestic scene.

“It comes back to enjoying cricket and, I think that’s a non-negotiable. But it’s funny even out in Zimbabwe, former Yorkshire bowler Steve Kirby was coach, we had Eddie Byrom, who is at Glamorgan, myself, a couple of Zimbabwe lads as well. We played a team called the Tuskers and they started calling us Bazball because we were going at five an over,” said Bess in an interview with the Telegraph.

Out in the Logan Cup, Bess scored 392 runs at an average of 49 and a strike rate of 72.06. However, there were other players who came with the aggression with four players going all the way to scoring double centuries while one made history by scoring a triple ton.

Brian Bennett has been one of the players applying the Bazball philosophy of aggressive and fearless cricket in Zimbabwe’s Logan Cup

It is the aggression, positivity and freedom of play encouraged by the Bazball philosophy that saw players such as Antum Naqvi going all the way to score 300 runs not out from 295 balls, while young Brian Bennet also expressed himself with a breezing 264 runs not out in 259 deliveries. Tony Munyonga also went big with a brilliant 237 runs from 254 balls. Other players who showed some form of aggression and positivity with bat in hand include Brian Chari who notched up his highest First-Class score of 213 runs off 321 balls while Dion Myers scored 204 runs not out after facing 270 balls.

The recently ended Logan Cup was a run-scoring spree with batters playing fearless and positive cricket, keeping up with the standard that has been set internationally. The Bazball philosophy appears to have inspired a number of batters in the country to play with freedom while also expressing themselves out in the middle.

It has brought back the fire in the country’s top-flight cricket competition with runs flowing easily off the batters’ bats on regular occasions. Many of the batters were scoring quickly. However, it remains to be seen whether that type of aggression and freedom of play witnessed in the previous season will continue into the upcoming edition of the four-day game in the country. 

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